Established in 2015, Wellbeing Teams was set up by Helen Sanderson and based on the Buurtzorg model of self-managing ‘neighbourhood teams’ in the Netherlands. CMM covered Buurtzorg in Business Clinic in 2015.
Helen explained why she started Wellbeing Teams, ‘Over 20 years as a trainer and consultant, I have been immersed in a world of person-centred practices, one-page profiles, personalised care and support planning, personalisation, person-centred reviews and Working Together for Change. I feel like I have made offers of different ways of working, and helped to show what these could look like in practice.
‘In setting up Wellbeing Teams, I want to demonstrate what these practices can actually look like in teams supporting people living at home.’
What are Wellbeing Teams?
Wellbeing Teams are small, neighbourhood, self-managed teams. Comprising no more than a few people, teams work locally to be flexible and responsive to an individual’s needs, focusing on people’s outcomes and building up support networks.
With homecare workers under increasing pressure, Helen identified a need to change the way services were delivered for the benefit of the people using the service and those delivering it. Helen continued, ‘The challenge was to create a different way of delivering support for people at home that is truly person-centred, where they have choice and control, and it’s delivered by an engaged, happy workforce. Having choice and control matters to our Wellbeing Workers as well as people using services, and having friends at work is critical to productivity and happiness. That is why we build choice, control and relationships into the DNA of Wellbeing Teams.’
The structure of the teams means it removes certain layers of management, reduces costs and keeps decision-making close to the individual. Wellbeing Workers are fully trained on self-management processes and have a team coach and buddy system. Teams are supported to use their judgement whilst also undertaking their core responsibilities.
Helen explained, ‘Each team has a coach to support them, and a buddy. The team meets every week to share information, address any issues and support each other. The team shares the roles needed, and they choose their roles based on their strengths. They then develop their rota/schedule together after the meeting.’
Wellbeing Teams have six core values: compassion, responsibility, collaboration, curiosity, creativity and flourishing. Helen explained, ‘Central to this is the context in which the teams operate and most importantly, the headline purpose of the team is to support and connect people with their community.
‘Teams are built on the following: Relationships are everything; Wellbeing; Person-centred support; Bringing our whole selves to work; Appreciation and feedback; Taking risks and learning; Celebrating; Trust; and Openly sharing information.’
Helen added, ‘Aligning values and practice is a key step in enabling a coherent and stable team culture to evolve.’
The Wellbeing Teams work closely with the people they support, use person-centred thinking tools and one-page profiles to learn what matters to each person and share this information. Helen continued, ‘People choose what they want support with (their outcomes and priorities), how they want to be supported, when and where. We enable them to choose their team too, either through looking at the team’s one-page profiles or a three-minute film of a team member introducing themselves.’
This enables the teams to deliver outcomes and not tasks, working flexibly and proactively to achieve the individual’s wishes. Teams focus on self-care, assistive technology, family, friends and wider circles of support to link the individual with their local community, to support them to be active in their local area, reduce the risk of isolation and delay the need for paid support. Being very local, the team is familiar with its local community and able to make connections. Once these avenues have been explored, Wellbeing Workers are able to deliver any outstanding, unmet support needs.
Wellbeing Teams work with commissioners and other care and support providers to deliver the model. They are currently working with Wigan Council and moving forward with Thurrock Council, Trafford Council and Oxfordshire County Council in the coming months. Helen added, ‘By the Autumn, we should have 11 teams up and running, across five local authorities.’ They are also working with providers, Care Unbound and Making Space.
Helen continued, ‘We want to expand and scale in a measured way. We are introducing Trusted Assessors into our teams, and expanding how we use technology as well as building on community assets. We also want to support people in different situations and with different needs. We are already supporting people with learning disabilities, and would love to support more individuals and families.
‘We are in discussions with a national charity about teams to support people with long-term conditions, and with a GP surgery to show what a Wellbeing Team based within a GP’s surgery could look like. We are looking at teams that will have health colleagues in as well, and we have just recruited our first occupational therapist.’
Wellbeing Teams are looking to offer the wider system solutions to help people get home and stay at home. This work can be undertaken in partnership with Community Circles, which brings teams together around the individual.
Helen finished, ‘Our vision for the future and offer to commissioners includes working as part of multi-disciplinary teams in home from hospital support; with GP practices; as part of a Virtual Ward; and as part of a hospice at home team.’